Child Support RI

Child Support in Rhode Island is pretty different compared to many other states in United States of America. However, the basic motto remains the same and that is to ensure that the children get their rightful financial support irrespective of the differences between their parents. In general, the Child Support Order in Rhode Island is set using “Rhode Island Family Court Child Support Formula and Guidelines”. Though the majority of the cases use this guideline, there are cases where the judge issue an order that asks the non-custodial parent to pay above the minimum set by the guidelines. There can be cases where the judge may even ask to make payments lower than the set minimum as per the guidelines. The Rhode Island Family Court Child Support Formula and Guidelines is actually a ‘floor’ value set by the law and there is no hard and fast rule that it has to be followed under all circumstances. There are some judges in Rhode Island who consistently issue Child Support payments that are higher than the predefined minimum.
The Family Court of Rhode Island has been entitled to take a look at the assets of a given party while determining the Child Support. The court is authorized to take account of everything that the court thinks is necessary. The court will look into extraordinary expenses of both parties and also determine the necessary expenses for each party. The court can also go up to the extent of determining the earning capacity of either of the parents if the court thinks that either one of them has the potential to earn more but is either not willing to work or is underemployed. The court will use the Rhode Island Family Court Child Support Formula and Guidelines to determine the Gross Income of each parent and then use the Combined Adjusted Gross Income of both the parents and determine the minimum Child Support RI amount. Adjusted Gross Income refers to the Gross Income after some necessary deductions that include expenses like dental and medical insurance, life insurance etc.
The reason why the court uses this ‘income-shares’ model is that it wants to find out the amount of support both parents would have paid together if they lived together with the child or children. Once that is determined, the court will then add another component to the support amount. This component is called the daycare expenses. Once this expense is added to the support amount, the court will then determine the percentage of total amount to be paid by each parent. This calculation method is simple and can be well explained using the simple numerical example below:
Let us assume that the mother of the child or children earns $2000 a month and the father earns $4000 a month. Let us also assume that the mother pays $600 towards various insurances and the father pays $600 too towards various insurances. So, the adjusted gross income of the mother is $1400 and that of the father is $3400. So, the combined adjust gross income will be $4800. So, the father’s percentage of income in Combined Adjusted Gross Income is ($3400/$4800) x 100 = 70.83%. So, the father is required to pay 70.83% of the minimum support payment defined by Rhode Island Family Court Child Support Formula and Guidelines plus the daycare expenses. The payments are generally collected using wage garnishment. Wage garnishment is a method where the payments towards child support are deducted directly from the non-custodial parent’s month wage by the employer and the employer pays that money to the responsible authorities, which is then disbursed by the authorities to the custodial parent.
The important thing to note here is that the Rhode Island Family Court Child Support Formula and Guidelines can be very complex as there are considerations like that of federal tax deductions that will be taken account of when determining the percentage to be paid by the parents when it comes to daycare expenses. These guidelines cannot be easily found through internet sources. The best way to attain them is to obtain a copy of the guidelines from the Rhode Island Family Court. The guidelines actually outline the ‘Rhode Island Monthly Basic Support Obligations’. These obligations were last revised in 2007 that replaced the 2002 obligations guidelines. Irrespective of the changes made to the guidelines, it must be remembered that the guidelines will only talk of the minimum amount that must be paid.
There are situations when the court can trump the minimum set by the Rhode Island Family Court Child Support Formula and Guidelines and decide in favor of a higher amount of Child Support payment. There are set of conditions, which when fulfilled, will force the judge to make such a decision. They are outlined below:
• Child or children expenses that are necessary and yet extraordinary.
• If the standard of living for the parents exceeds way beyond the gross income level reported.
• Parents have and own substantial amount of assets.
There may be situations where the court determines a payment that is lower than what is set by the Rhode Island Family Court Child Support Formula and Guidelines. However, the circumstances are very limited and both parties (both custodial and non-custodial parents) will have to get into a mutual agreement. Some of these circumstances include:
• Number of visitations exceeding the norms set by the law.
• Extraordinary payments are made towards the expenses of the child or children.
• Both parents simply agree for a lower payment.
Failure to pay Child Support payments in Rhode Island can lead to serious ramifications for the alleged person and it can actually lead to jail sentence either under technical or willful contempt. It is a very complex legal procedure and can be overwhelming for both parties and they are advised to seek legal help from attorneys.